Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glee Project Finale: Yup, Still All About the White Boys

Above: the top four finalists talk about winning the homework assignments, and Lindsay points out a strange pattern that follows female contestants. Wonder why the show didn't air this conversation?

If you haven't watched the season finale (and I don't recommend it - frankly, I'm still trying to figure out why I watched the series), this post is full of spoilers. Rather predictable spoilers, mind you.

What happened in the season finale? Well, they took the four finalists and had them produce one last music video with the rest of the cast in the background. Then each finalist gave a solo performance, performing a song of his or her choice. But that's not the interesting part, since we all know the finalists' performances on this last episode had little, if any, impact on the final outcome. These actors have been auditioning for weeks, and the directors have had plenty of time to decide whom they want.

And their decisions in the season finale reveal yet another racist, sexist preference, disguised as progression: the two winners they selected are white men. Each of these white men gets a guest starring role on 7 episodes. The other two finalists won two-episode roles, and those runners up include a white woman and a black man. 

Why is that a problem? I'll list off a few reasons:

1. The judges themselves referred to Alex, the black man, as the best singer in the group. They also referred to Lindsay, the white woman, as the best actor. Yet, when it came to the roles that would offer the most opportunities to sing and act, the strongest actor and the strongest singer were passed over for white men.

2. Out of the three white men (not including Matheus, a hispanic man) who began the competition, the only one not to win actually chose to leave. Granted, the judges said they would have sent home Damion, a white Irish man, if Cameron had stayed, but even if that's true, it suggests they needed two white men enough to push Damion through once they lost Cameron.

3. I really couldn't see how Damian and the other winner, Sam, were as strong performers as the runner-ups, never mind stronger performers. This point is subjective, of course, but I mention it because I see no evidence that the white male performers simply happened to be better. Remember, the directors said they were going to eliminate Damion in the 7th episode, after weeks of comparing him to the other contestants. He's charming, I'll give him that, but the judges only preferred him after losing another white boy.

4. Offering much smaller roles to minorities, while featuring white boys (and a few white girls) mimics everything that Glee already does: it creates the appearance of a progressive show that features talent, regardless of race or gender, while still focusing all the attention on white boys.

Of course, the ultimate sad truth is that the judges' decision probably reflects viewer preferences. Viewers in the US by and large prefer stories about white boys. 

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I'm really tired of stories about white boys/men. I've been watching "Pretty Little Liars" all summers just because the stars are girls and the plot is not mainly about their romantic interests! It's not like there aren't shows with strong female characters who are believable and interesting ("Castle" for example has Beckett, and I personally think she is much more interesting than the title character), but it is hard to find.

    Anyway, that was tangential. I like your insights on "Glee," even if they are saddening. TV and viewer interests are... special.